ATTERKOP / LIBER ABACI / 2016
From Rock n Reel:
From what I hear, Atterkop has been banging around picking up steam in the underground punk scene of Bristol. Their initial full length offering ‘Liber Abaci’ is what I would hope for from the band I think they are. Even down to the album title, Atterkop pushes the ‘think for yourself’ attitude.
“Liber Abaci” was the title of a 13th century book on arithmetic focusing on making calculations without the use of an abacus or other systemic tools. ‘Liber Abaci’ plays like a good set list. Every boy, Every girl kicks in after the short intro like a call to arms in all its breakneck speed circle-pit glory before loosening up on you, ever so slightly, with some choppy ska reminiscent of early Suicide Machines or Choking Victim records. Then you’re off on through a series of aggressive songs peppered with strong messages about globalization, suburban life, gender politics and other things I look for a politically leaning band to address.
Safer Spaces is the song that truly makes this listener draw comparisons to Choking Victim and their gravel voiced anarchistic ska/punk hybrid music. Breaking The Sequence follows by breaking the sequence and letting more of their 2nd wave ska sound come through and it is more noticeably present in the songs that finish up the album.
Atterkop released a rad animated video for ‘Picket Fence’ in August which could make it the 1st single if people still use such terms and practices in the largely digital world. This is a wise choice in my opinion because it does a thorough job giving an overall representation of Atterkop in one song. It’s hardcore. It’s punk rock. It’s ska. It has humor to show they may be serious but Atterkop doesn’t seem to be assholes about it. I call this a solid initial release by an eclectic band and look forward to what they do next. (Rock n Reel)
From Punk Archive:
Named after, whether intentionally or not, a book that helped convince the world to adopt a more efficient numerical system, the politically-pumped Liber Abaci from Bristol four-piece Atterkop aims for a similar impact, delivered via heavy instrumentation, conviction in their powerful group chants, and socially critical displeasure.Introduction serves as an atmospheric opening to the album. The dark dub-rock influences, the playful bassline and spooky, winding guitar lines create a smoother, more listenable Mars Volta feel. This aura is quickly dispelled with Every Boy, Every Girl as we reach the hardcore territory which Atterkop has mapped out well. The rapid shred of distortion from the chord progression is held aloft by its parade of blastbeats and the shouty unison of its backing vocals. A token, but highly effective, clean ska interruption, complete with some swing in the guitar’s skank and a memorable walking bassline skipping energetically just ahead of the beat, balances out the heaviness of the verse whilst displaying the range of the band’s musical delivery.
Trees Will Fall features further good use of group chanting, an indicator of the band’s energy whilst reflecting its sentiment of inclusivity. This is a powerful tune, highly developed through some nice touches, such as when guitar drops out in the second verse and the bass is allocated to the foreground in a tasty stylistically punk breakdown. The way the verses almost begin in half-time, before swapping into a faster incarnation then looping back into the heavier accenting, helps keep the energy up. A menacing dub-interlude slowly picks off then reintroduces the instruments, darkly and dreamlike, before returning us to the song’s intensifying layers of shouting, distortion, and comprehensively precise drumming.
Listeners preferring their music less full on might find refuge in Safer Spaces’ gentler reggae plodding. But only for its intro. The genre influences are well balanced, and the message of the lyrics make an empowering statement “it’s not about political correctness but sensitivity”, where the idea of actually practicing friendly actions is favoured as opposed to bogging down the application of moral behaviour with technicalities. Break the Sequence is a short but sour criticism of citizenship’s second-place relationship to its government, featuring some smoothly picked guitar, straying from its straightforwardly aggressive distorted chords, saving them for the chorus. The dissonant note bend at the song’s end adds some theatrical element.
The restless introducing bassline of General Practitioner leads us into an impressive display of ska-punk that fluctuates in intensity throughout. Probably one of the album’s stronger tracks, the bass work on this track is infectious and really completes the song here, while the wayward addition of incrementally heavy musical ideas from the other instrumentation keeps things busy and maintains our interest.
Picket Fence’s punk steadiness meets some delicious horn additions. These blurt out a staccato European-sounding melody under the guitar’s skank chords and an expertly syncopated bassline. On the intensely loud chorus, the horns screech under the distortion. Apparently written in response to some racist graffiti that shamefully surfaced near one of the band member’s houses, it is a call to arms against, or a call to ignore, fascist behaviour. As short-lived as the writing that inspired it, the band’s concise but developed approach here signals a need to move on from such intolerance.
Red Lines’ rapid up-tempo ska-shuffle creates a nice bookend for the screaming outbursts and tenacious drumming. A breakdown later in the song slyly re-appropriates a classical motif into a powerfully uplifting bit of major-key heaviness, merging perfectly with the emotive vocals that end the song for another of Liber Abaci’s searing highlights.
If We Stop We Die is neither the tagline from Speed, nor a shark’s mantra, but a dub-heavy masterpiece that transforms into straightforward punk by the end of the tune. Complete with dormant heaviness from the occasionally surfacing flurries of guitar and angry political message, it’s a strong place to end the album at. Due to the autoplay, I accidentally found that the album loops back quite well on itself to restart with Introduction. Still sounding fresh whilst drawing influence from several genres that can sometimes become over-saturated, it’s a testament to the consideration that you can hear has gone into arranging these tracks.
Released on the fourth anniversary of their founding, Atterkop have produced this consistent, eleven strong, full-length debut of quality ska-punk, at times littered with a darker, heavier, more thrash-orientated edge than what is normally expected. It pays off massively, with the dubbier sections showcasing the band’s musical sensitivity and the punkier sections detailing the group’s more personal side. Whilst still a fair way off from smashing the system, it’ll at least be likely to be monopolising people’s speakers long after its release. (Punk Archive)
An album as hard-hitting in its beliefs as much as it is in its vibrant and genre-crossing Punk-Rock sound, Liber Abaci is chaotic, intense and quite beautiful in its focussed, tenacious and unrelenting rage.
Now if that doesn’t make you want to read on I don’t know what will. Perhaps some name drops for those aficionados? The band cite ‘…the cream of Ska-Punk bands from early 2000’s (King Prawn, Capdown, Five Knuckle) fusing this sound with a more politically aggressive sentiment.’
You listen to the album and quickly hear the company this Ska-Punk is keeping. Skate Punk, old-school Hardcore and its more modern variant, as well as the dark and cutting melodies and abrasiveness of contemporary Crust Punk are all well and truly entrenched, as is a very welcome and well deployed Post-Hardcore appeal lathered over the top of the wound this band are creating in the sound barrier.
If you haven’t already guessed, the album is an absolute thrill-ride.
‘Introduction’ is the calm before the storm and the opening notes of ‘Every Boy, Every Girl’ inform you of the melodic destruction that is about befall you. The Hardcore Punk/Dub crossover of ‘Trees Will Fall’ in its warning against humankind’s reckless natural exploitation is somewhat disjointed but seems to rescue itself from the sharp change in direction.
‘Safer Spaces’ for the most part is a pure Dub/Hardcore Punk crossover but for the driven melodic guitar leads that give a hint of Crust Punk to the mix. By this point you find yourself less bothered by the sharp direction changes, instead embracing the formation of band’s signature Punk-Rock.
The passion put into this release pulsates from the slower, riff-laden tracks as much as it does the breakneck pace or the deceptively gentle Ska and Dub infusions. ‘Break The Sequence’ gives us a taster of this before the tempo is amped up again for the supercharged “crack rock steady” of ‘General Practitioner’.
The melodic guitars are a highlight of the Atterkop sound, despite their forte lying in fast, abrasive and discordant tenacity. The likes of From Ashes Rise come to mind, as well as a slight penchant for a more stripped melodic sound in the likes of ‘Hope Will Float’.
‘Forgotten, Found’ sounds akin to old-school Fugazi if it had happened now and focussed more on the Dub influence. The whole album is conditioned with this more technical, precisely chaotic Post-Hardcore agenda but in ‘Forgotten, Found’, it really shines.
Picket Fence is by far the best track on the album. Its blunt and to the point, showing Atterkop for who they are and musically, the more melodic Crust Punk sound wouldn’t be without its almost mischievous brass and Ska-string flutter.
Atterkop’s skill is something that can’t fault. Punk may a lot of the time be simple music and technique brashly sped-up but the skill to do so that fast should never be underpinned. Atterkop show themselves off throughout with the simple, the fast and the complex standing equally tall in their layered sound.
The albums final two punches one and the same with the previous nine and are well worth your time, off you go. (Musically Fresh)